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Baby Boomers and Hearing Loss – Part 1 of 2
The baby boomers want it all. They want their electronic gadgets, their power tools, their entertainment systems, their sporty cars, their trucks and their motorcycles, high definition televisions, and surround-sound entertainment systems. It all adds up to the most active and noisy lifestyle of any generation, so far. This seemingly normal way of life for most baby boomers provides a clear indication that they will suffer from a significantly higher degree of hearing loss than their parents or any other generation before them.
“Baby boomer” is an American term referring to the large generation born in the two decades after World War II a phenomenon paralleled by the large post-war generations in many European countries, as well. Of the more than 75 million Americans born between 1945 and 1964, 20.4%, or 16 million suffer from some degree of hearing loss. According to the National Health Interview Survey by the National Center for Health Statistics, there is 26% more hearing loss among those now aged 46 to 64 than in previous generations. The trend towards more hearing loss earlier in life was confirmed by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, who examined rates of hearing impairment over time in Alameda County, California. They found that the prevalence of hearing impairment nearly doubled between 1965 and 1994. This has given rise to concern that as America ages, with the baby boomers living longer, louder, and livelier than any generation before them, hearing impairment will reach new levels
in severity and prevalence in coming decades.
Many people are aware that their hearing has deteriorated but are reluctant to seek help. Perhaps they dont want to acknowledge the problem, are embarrassed by what they see as a weakness, are of the belief that hearing loss is an ailment of old age, and/or believe that they can get by without using a hearing device. But time and again, research demonstrates the considerable negative social, psychological, cognitive and health effects of untreated hearing loss with far-reaching implications that go well beyond hearing alone. In fact, those who have difficulty hearing can experience such distorted and incomplete communication that it seriously impacts their professional and personal lives, at times leading to isolation and withdrawal.
Studies have linked untreated hearing loss to
Reduced job performance and income disparity compared to persons with hearing loss who wear hearing aids
Avoidance or withdrawal from social situations
Social rejection and loneliness
Irritability, negativism and anger
Fatigue, tension, stress and depression
Reduced alertness and increased risk to personal safety
Impaired memory and ability to learn new tasks
Diminished psychological and overall health
Next month Advances in Hearing Devices